Getting Wild at the American Conservation Film Festival

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, the landmark conservation bill that helped protect the nation’s most pristine and expansive wild spaces for future generations.  ACFF is celebrating with several films featuring the American wilderness, wildlife, and what it means to appreciate these precious resources.

A special wilderness-themed block of films will be shown at the National Conservation Training Center’s Byrd Auditorium beginning at 3pm on Saturday, November 1.  Two shorts from American University filmmakers, in partnership with the National Park Service, kick off the block, one chronicling the history of the ancient Saguaro Cactus in the Sonoran Desert and another taking us on a journey through the North Cascades National Park over hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and paradise for hikers and mountaineers.

In “The Meaning of Wild,” filmmaker Ben Hamilton takes viewers on a journey by foot, boat, plane, and kayak through one of our nation’s wildest landscapes, the Tongass National Forest of Alaska.

Next, the audience will go on an aerial adventure with the Smithsonian Channel’s “Aerial America: Wilderness,” a high-flying tour of America’s most breathtaking natural landscapes protected by the Wilderness Act.

The block concludes with a love story with the land and between two people in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming.  From the streets of Los Angeles, Juan Martinez stepped off a bus in Grand Teton fifteen years ago and saw the stars for the first time in his life.  He met and fell in love with National Park Ranger Vanessa Torres and they began a life together dedicated to protecting the land and community. “The trees don’t judge where you come from or what language you speak,” Martinez says in “Love in the Tetons.” “This is one of the few places where we as an American people can truly call home.  That’s what love is at the end of the day.” Martinez and Torres will be in attendance to share their story following the film.

On November 9 at 5pm, ACFF will present a special Audience Choice Event at the Opera House in Shepherdstown, a night of diverse treats, including a film related to the Wilderness Act followed by a discussion with Ed Zahniser, the son of the Wilderness Act’s primary architect, Howard Zahniser.

For the full schedule of films, film descriptions, and more information, visit